LQ: 8.8


Brain grade: 8.0
Fun score: 9.6

Platform/Console: , , LWK Recommended Age: 6+ Thinking Skills Used: , , ,

iMaschine is a music recording app with a vast library of effects and sounds. iMaschine enables the recording of up to four separate tracks — although one must be a vocal track and one must be a drum track. The app essentially allows users to build up to 32 bars of a song from scratch. Users immediately become the writer, arranger, engineer, and producer, as they see through every part of the recording process. The app uses samples and prerecorded sounds which are usually compressed and given reverb to sound more realistic and professional. Users have access to myriad different drum sounds, from toms to hi hats, as well as interesting synth lines, and a great imitation grand piano. The app probably lends itself best to house and hiphop music style, but can really serve to be a building block for a song in any genre. The app is not free, at $4.99, but there is so much value in a recording app like iMaschine, including its potential as a tool for dyslexia therapy, that it can be looked at as an investment. Additional kits and sounds can be purchased for $.99 if users wish to experiment beyond the extensive catalog of free sounds. Because users are allowed four different tracks, hundreds of individual sounds, and a handful of effects, it might take an hour or so to get a handle on the app’s functionality. Despite the slight learning curve, users will learn how to manipulate the touch-based app rather quickly. Therefore, we recommend iMachine to users ages 6 and older.



It's going to take some trial and error before users can get the hang of the app. What sounds do they like best? Which drum kit sounds most natural? Should lead lines be played at a higher or lower octave? Finding musical preferences takes a little bit of time -- and a lot of experimenting. Before users even record their first track, we encourage them to browse through as many sounds as they can. Users should make note of instruments, sounds, and samples they like so they can use them in the future. Exploring options is a facet of the flexibility thinking skill --  and so is learning from mistakes. Because a user's introduction to the app is so contingent upon trial and error, flexibility is inherent in its functionality. It won't take users long to realize they may have to adapt their instruments to create a cohesive sound. For example, a light, jazz drum kit might not be the best pairing with a distorted synth bass. Finding the instruments and sounds that work best with each other will take some experimenting.


downloadUsers have four tracks to work with, a drum track, a vocal track, and two other empty tracks. In order to determine how to best use the tracks, users have to think of the big picture. It's usually best to begin with a drum track so the rhythm and "feel" of the sample can be set. However, if users have a melody that they want to get to tape immediately, then it might be best to start recording with a piano to click track or metronome. Even when laying down the initial drum pattern, users have to think about what type of song they are trying to make. Will it be fast or slow? Will it have a swing or waltz time signature? These are ideas that users must consider before blindly recording a drum pattern. Users also must remember to leave space for the bass. The bass and drums are the rhythm section -- they complement each other. So when making the drum pattern on the pad, users have to think about where the bass would fit in. This is just one of the many instances where planning comes into play while using iMaschine.

Time Management

iMaschine allows users 32 bars of music, which will usually be less than two minutes of recording time. So the app may not be able to produce a 3 minute radio friendly pop hit -- but it can provide the impetus. Because users only have a limited amount of recording time, they have to do everything they can to maximize their songs and soundscapes in that period. Extended introductions or bars left blank for solos are not the best use of users' 32 bars. It's all about making the most of a truncated recording time. Shave off unnecessary part of a song, or just make a long loop so you can improvise lyrics. iMaschine forces users to be timely and efficient -- not to mention the precision they need when recorded instruments in perfect time.

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